British siblings accused of running food poisoning scam that may have cost hotels millions
A British brother and sister have been charged with devising a holiday food poisoning scam, which saw tourists make fake claims against all-inclusive Spanish resorts.
The scam is believed to have cost businesses on the island of Mallorca at least €200,000 (£176,000). However, the final figure is expected to be ‘significantly' higher, with investigating detectives having previously suggested losses could be as much as £9.5m.
Laura Joyce and her brother Marc Grimstead are accused of running the "profit-motivated organised gang" through a Spanish company called Elite Project Marketing SL.
Court documents allege the gang obtained details of British tourists staying in all-inclusive hotels between 2016 and 2017 and convinced them to falsely claim they had been ill during their stay to claim compensation in the UK.
The group is alleged to have then taken a cut from compensation paid.
Six other Brits also face charges of fraud and being part of a criminal gang. Five are accused of working with the pair to convince tourists to make false statements, while a UK businessman is claimed to have processed the claims.
The investigating judge rejected an attempt by lawyers acting for Joyce, who has been prosecuted under her maiden name of Laura Holmes Cameron, and another of the accused to shelve the case against them, stating "several indications of criminality existed."
This included the fact that only 38 of 800 holidaymakers staying at Club Mac Alcudia who submitted compensation claims had asked for medical assistance.
A state prosecutor and private prosecutors acting for the hotels affected will now be invited to submit indictments failing a last appeal by the suspects. A trial date would then be set.
Joyce's lawyer Gabriel Llado said after his client appeared in court in a closed hearing in May 2018, following her arrest in 2017, that she had admitted to passing on the names and phone numbers of holidaymakers for payment but insisted it was part of a market research exercise.
In 2017 Benidorm hotel association HOSBEC estimated British guests were costing Spanish hotels around £55m in bogus food poisoning claims.
The accused are: Laura Holmes Cameron, Marc Grimstead, Ryan Bridge, Simon Robert Flanagan, Tegan Jewel Sumerlee, Susan Amanda Lyle, Nicola Marie Sanderson, and Peter Carl Murphy.
Have you been affected by false claims of food poisoning? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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